Scott Morrison has called Israel Folau’s comments linking Australia’s recent bushfires with the legalisation of same-sex marriage and abortion ‘appallingly insensitive’.
The country’s Prime Minister was joined by Labor leader Anthony Albanese in condemning the sacked rugby player’s comments over the weekend.
Morrison, who is also an Evangelical Christian, told reporters: “He (Folau) is a free citizen, he can say whatever he likes, but that doesn’t mean he can’t have regard to the grievous offence this would have caused to people whose homes have been burnt down”.
Six people have died in the bushfires that have swept across parts of Australia, and Folau’s sermon comes after saying that gay people would go to hell earlier this year – something that he was sacked by Rugby Australia (RA) for.
The former Wallaby delivered a 10-minute sermon at the Truth of Jesus Christ Church Sydney in which he said: “I’ve been looking around at the events that’s been happening in Australia, this past couple of weeks, with all the natural disasters, the bushfires and the droughts.”
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It was then followed with a Bible passage – the Book of Isaiah, The Lord’s Devastation of the Earth – that read: “The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse consumes the earth; its people must bear their guilt. Therefore earth’s inhabitants are burned up, and very few are left.”
Albanese backed Morrison, saying: “[Folau’s] comments are in line with some of his other comments which are pretty reprehensible, frankly.
“I think it’s unfortunate that they were made, but Mr Folau has a history of making provocative comments. He’s entitled to his view but it’s also incumbent on people who have a bit of common sense to reject those comments.”
Following the former dual-code star’s sacking in 2019, he took legal action with the Fair Work Commission in June of this year against RA and his club side, the Waratahs, under the basis that he had his contract unlawfully terminated because of his religion.
With that proving to be unsuccessful, he then took the same claim up with the Federal Circuit Court of Australia, which is currently pending. He is seeking an apology from RA, compensation and reinstatement as a rugby player.
He also launched a GoFundMe page to cover the $3 million legal costs which he has incurred. It was subsequently shut down by the company after it was deemed to violate their terms and conditions.
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